How a sexist T-shirt harms us all by Chitra Ramaswamy, The Guardian
The point is that all of it matters, and all of it is connected. Whether gender stereotyping takes place in an email, on a T-shirt, in a toy shop or at a school, the effects are serious for all of us. And they are far-reaching, with an impact on everything from the gender pay gap and women being under-represented in Stem sectors to widespread sexual bullying in schools.
The Gap ad is not an anomaly: it is the product of the deeply gendered world in which we all live, work and are grossly misrepresented. This kind of gender stereotyping is harmful not only to girls and boys but to women, men and every gender in between. After all, each of us should grow with the possibility of becoming a scientist, a social butterfly, neither or both.”
The Only Girl at Her Science Camp, by Lara N. Dotson-Renta for The New York Times Blog:
Last summer, I dropped her off at “Blast Off” camp at our local arts center, where kids created projects related to science and planets. Out of 10 children with little backpacks and beaming faces, she was the only girl. I smiled at her obvious excitement as I waved goodbye, but worried about the implications of how often the gendering of interests happens in the lives of our children. She may well be the only girl in the room for years to come.
Sexism Aimed at Children: Why Its Time to Let Clothes Be Clothes by Francesca Cambridge Mallen for The Huffington Post Blog:
Until I became a parent eight years ago, I didn’t give gendered clothing much thought and bought my daughter clothes from across the boys and girls sections; even selecting the pink options unquestioning as to whether she wanted that colour or not. I could ignore the FOR GIRLS or FOR BOYS signs, but started to notice other people couldn’t – including my daughter.
Before she could read, my child had a strong sense of gender based on the same stereotypes we encountered on the high street, from clothing and toys, to cards and pull-ups. Whatever stereotypes our society is guilty of, they are reinforced exponentially by a consumer culture that puts all its faith in gender marketing.
‘Scarlett started saying things like, “I can’t have that, that’s for boys”. This is something that hasn’t come from us as her parents.
‘When we go shopping, we tell her to look in both girls’ and boys’ sections, but that’s not the answer to the problem. As a campaign we urge parents to feedback to retailers and say, “I love this product, but why did my boy have to buy it from the girls’ section”‘
‘There’s a whole team of people running the campaign. One member has met with designers from Tesco, Mothercare and John Lewis.
‘We’ve had some successes, but it is clear retailers need to go straight back to the drawing board, right back to how their teams are set up as boyswear or girlswear. Even parties that announce a baby’s gender in pink or blue themes show how deeply rooted this commercial obsession with gender goes.’
Southern Daily Echo
“The two families are among a growing number of people who reject gender labels that they feel restrict their children’s freedom, and let them play and experiment, whether that means dressing up as Spiderman or a princess, with groups like Let Toys Be Toys and Let Clothes Be Clothes actively campaigning for gender neutral items for children.”
The Irish Times
“My princess T-shirt fatwa comes from a place of good intent: I played ordinary, common or garden, Lego when I was a child”
Sometimes it seems as though the media is over-saturated with talk of gender constructs and fluidity and stereotypes and then other times it seems as though none of it is getting through.
Let Clothes Be Clothes and Let Toys Be Toys are two organisations that keep a vigilant eye on all of this sort of thing.
The Washington Post
“Change is slow, however. Cultural shifts happen in stages, not overnight — hence the pushback. It’s an interesting culture war to watch: In the future, gender stereotyping could indeed be rolled back even further, into areas such as the clothing department. Recent efforts to break down stereotypes in children’s clothing have included the work of grassroots organization Let Clothes Be Clothes, which calls for an end to the gender stereotypes found in the design and marketing of kids’ clothing…”
The Mail Online
- Labour MP accuse Natural History Museum and M&S of ‘sexism’
- Chi Onwurah said companies are guilty of ‘gender-specific marketing’
- Said dinosaur t-shirts aimed at boys is excluding girls from science
“Yesterday Miss Onwurah wrote on Twitter: ‘If you’re in London next Monday help tell the dinosaurs in @NHM_London girls want a share in science too #hearusroar”
“It does feel like we’re on the verge of a turning point in gender clothing,” said Ruth Lopardo, co-founder of Let Clothes Be Clothes, which criticised Marks & Spencer last month for marketing a series of Natural History Museum dinosaur-themed T-shirts and pyjamas made only for boys.
“We’re at an overwhelming point at the moment, where many gender-neutral things like sandpits can only be bought in pink or blue. But consumers are getting wise to what is simply a blatant tactic to force them to buy unnecessary items, and wise manufacturers are finally waking up to the fact that frustrated consumers can simply use the internet to buy toys from independent manufacturers who care about these things, or from Scandinavian countries where all colours are gender-neutral when it comes to children.”
Independent on Sunday
It’s only a year since M&S bowed to consumer pressure and agreed to stop segregating toys by gender, and already they’re trying to put children back in blue and pink boxes.
This is important because children want to fit in, particularly when it comes to perceived gender roles. And because asking a five-year-old to play in high heels and a crop top is just mean. Many shops do it, however, because if brothers and sisters can’t share, then parents have to buy twice as many clothes.
London Evening Standard
Marks & Spencer’s range of children’s clothing inspired by dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum has been criticised because it is marketed as for boys. It does seem odd that when dinosaurs have universal appeal, pyjamas with a T-rex motif can’t be marketed simply to “children”. After all, the newest dinosaur in the NHM’s collection is in fact called Sophie.
Francesca Cambridge, who co-founded the campaign and complained to the retailer and museum, said enforcing gender stereotypes places limitations on girls and boys, at a time when more girls are being encouraged to study science and maths.
”We have a situation where a national museum and a national retailer are trying to get children interested in science and history but are excluding girls. It’s a really sad message.
”It’s classic gender stereotyping – that boys like rough and tumble and nature but girls don’t. It’s detrimental to the development of both boys and girls who are being told what they should be interested in. At what age do they think it is OK for girls to start showing an interest in these type of things? I’m really disappointed.”